Keloglan vs. The Black Prince

 KELOGLAN VS. THE BLACK PRINCE

vs. Frazier vs. Predator II: Requiem

IMDB [2006] Starring: Mehmet Ali Erbil, Özcan Deniz, Petek Dinçöz, that one Turkish actor from that one Turkish thing, and that other Turkish actor from the other thing

You see, Keloglan, true love conquers all. Even baldness.”



How about a moment for America?

Looking at the flag I am reminded of the founding father’s struggle for independence, the blood spilled to protect that freedom, and nearly two and a half centuries of achievement from the invention of the lightbulb to the first moon walk to the creation of the internet. The abolition of slavery, victory over communism, Joey Chestnut’s defeat of Kobayashi… Kerri Strug. And of course we are a flawed society— still we struggle with an ever-widening division of classes, institutionalized racism, a declining position among world superpowers and important debates that continue to rage on, like “What about these uninsured people?” or “Just how real are these Real Housewives?” We may face an uncertain future, we may live in an uncertain time of uncertainty, but there’s one thing about this country that is tried and true, and completely certain— past, present, and future…

WE ARE NOT ASHAMED OF BALDNESS.

Michael Jordan, George Costanza, Walter Skinner, Taye Diggs, Mr. Clean - all bald, all great Americans. The symbol of our nation? The bald eagle. I sit here waving Old Glory lamenting this great quality of our nation because I have recently been subjected to a derogatory piece of media that degrades this very virtue, a Turkish film called Keloglan kara prens’e karsi, or Keloglan vs. the Black Prince.

Before watching this movie, the current number 38 on the IMDB Bottom 100, I must admit that I knew nothing about Turkey, outside of Hedo Turkoglu, Mehmet Okur, the song ‘Istanbul’ and Thanksgiving. After watching this movie I think I know even less. The bumbling bald fool character Keloglan is apparently some kind of Turkish folk hero that does stuff for stuff about stuff and adventures and stuff or something. This is one of those movies that throws the source material in the garbage and leaves the lid open for the raccoons, leading me to believe Turkish cinema— not all that different from the US. The film version of the Keloglan tale follows a kooky bald lead armed with nothing but a recorder flute on an adventure to find a giant to win the hand of the princess who secretly is in love with an equally bumbling but misbehaving bad prince who is in some league of fairy tale villains and then there’s like a lot of dancing and a magic carpet and…. whatever.

I am trying my best. The beginning: well, wait… actually, you know the movie version of Street Fighter with Jean Claude Van Damme? I love it, too. But you know how that movie threw every Street Fighter II character in the movie, regardless of context, just to get them in the movie— even the new challengers?? This movie is kind of like that, except, fairy tale characters, or more accurately, characters from fairy tales that have been played to hell in fairy tale inspired movies. So, to start, there is Goldilocks, also known as Sirmaoglan, and soon to be know as Keloglan. Kind of like Cassius Clay becomes Muhammad Ali, Anakin Skywalker becomes Darth Vader, Chad Johnson becomes Chad Ochocinco. He is played by Mehmet Ali Erbil, an actor of whom I know nothing other than the fact that if they ever made a Turkish Laverne and Shirley, he should play Squiggy— he would nail Squiggy. Fair-haired Sirmaoglan is implored by the Sultan to marry his daughter, Cankiz, this princess. He could have just said, ‘okay, cool’ but instead says ‘shouldn’t I do some kind of stupid task?’ Please remember this, he bitches about it through the rest of the movie, when he himself suggested this kind of business. I don’t remember what the hell they told him to do, but him being a ‘part-time shepherd’ (meaning he outsources all of his work to a dog) goes out to talk to his sheep about it. He hears the princess screaming and being attacked by a dragon, is then confronted by the Black Prince, Black Prince rushes into danger first, runs into a tree, Steve Urkels, leaving the rescuing to Sirmaoglan. Of course he fails and the dragon sets his hair on fire. It was kind of like this…


4 yil sondra, bald Sirmaoglan, now know as Keloglan, which means ‘baldy bald bald,’ is trying to kill himself because he is bald. He is stopped by his friend Cankusoglan, who has long, luscious, greasy locks of hair, and, outside of Keloglan, is my first nominee for the most pathetic character in the movie since he is the sidekick to this Humpty Dumpty of a lead. Cankus stops Keloglan from drowning himself with some encouraging words. I don’t remember what they were now, but I am glad I remembered them two seconds after he said them, because this was when Hodja was introduced to the film and I wanted to kill myself. Hodja is some fat stupid old guy with a turban and a beard and a boatload of funny, as he fancies himself as some kind of comedian. The Turkish intricacies of his humor went pretty far over my head. I didn’t quite get his joke about throwing yeast into the river to turn it into yogurt, and all I can think was ‘Go away Hodja. For the love of God, go away, far away and never ever come back.’

Keloglan is still after the princess and is still being given tasks from the sultan to win her hand in marriage or whatever. You think in four years this would have already happened, but no. He is supposed to find some giant and take his belt and then he will get to marry the princess, who really isn’t into him in the first place. Of course he agrees, and when they promise to give Cankus a bunch of gold he agrees too. You’re right a great adventure does follow.

KeloglanThey go to the Tolga Han and meet up with the proprieter Tolga Han, which means ‘Turkish Eric Estrada.’ There are also these two guys, I have no idea who they are supposed to be, that wear big hats and basically run into everyone and sass them with a hit of their tambourine and a pantomimed head butt. I mention them because they are my favorite characters in this movie. Of course there is also Hodja (cut my throat) who is there doing his comedy act. Recycling his usual stuff, like his bit about riding the donkey backwards and his crazy wife. I hate you, Hodja. Thankfully this is pretty much his last scene (cut my throat, in a good way this time). Snow White works at this place as a bar wench, and she is in some kind of relationship with Cankus, who won’t committ to her because he doesn’t want to take on a living arrangement with her dwarves. That’s men for you. There he spots a sign about a circus that has a giant, a friendly one, and comes up with a scheme to get this circus giant to be the giant they are supposed to find or something.. I don’t know, is this like the plot? I think it is.

Saddam, where are your pants?

Onward to the circus, I guess, but not before the second nominee (and likely winner) for the most pathetic character in this movie comes into play. Balkiz is just a dreamy-eyed girl doing her laundry in the river with the other dreamy-eyed girls doing their laundry in the river. She is going on about unrequited love and all that, and then of course we find out that the man she loves is Keloglan, who doesn’t even notice her. When she talks to him, he says things like ‘neener neener none of your business’ and ‘no, you cannot ride my donkey.’ I’m sorry, I thought unrequited love was like, he’s so out of my league I could never be with him, and I thought I was an expert on this. I didn’t know it was ‘man, I’d like to trade down, but the creepy guy at work that collects mayonnaise packets doesn’t notice me, tear.’ Balkiz, why? Love must not only be blind, but blind, deaf, mute, and drowning in wet cement. To be closer to Keloglan she disguises herself as a boy named Tüysüzoglan, which is Turkish for ‘Balkiz, why?’ She/he says she/he knows where the circus is so she gets to go with them on their epic journey.

So, what about this Black Prince? Is he at all integral to the plot? What is the plot? Mystery abounds. The Black Prince of the Vandams (he rules over Jean Claude Van Damme and Kevin VanDam, pro angler) is a boasting, arrogant sex-addict that falls down a lot, but he’s more attractive that Keloglan, so he is more tolerable to watch. Of course, Cankiz the princess is really in love with him, and for some reason this is a secret. He also rides around with a guy that looks like Saddam Hussein and doesn’t wear pants on his horse— whoever he was, he entertained me greatly.

What of his adventures? Well, first of all he has assembled some league of fairy tale villains. It’s really more like a union, because they just bitch about their rights and they don’t really get anything done in the end. I don’t quite know what this had to do with anything. In one scene he is riding around with Pantsless Sadaam Hussein when he runs into a little group of jaunty woodsman dancers, led by Robin Hood. This also has nothing to do with anything, I just really liked these guys and their moves.

The Black Prince may seem busy with that crap, but he is also is trying to get the princess, who, I guess, has already been promised to Keloglan. To do this he goes to his sister, Queen Makarena. I assume this is funny because when this movie came out in 2006, I’m sure the makarena had just made it big in Turkey. Either that or it just sounded stupid to call her Queen Dougie or Queen SouljaBoy. She gives him a potion or something to put the princess in a deep sleep so he can be the one on the white horse that wakes her up. Oh, is there like, supposed to be a fairy tale theme here or something? To help him with this he gets someone close to the princess to administer the potion, Cinderella. But Cinderella isn’t the beaten down troll she usually is. Here she is presented as a saucy vixen who uses sex to get what she wants, often entertaining the Black Prince in her pumpkin coach. She’s still a maid, though— we all have our place.

Meanwhile, the donkey and his three loser friends have still not found the circus. Actually, I’m pretty sure the donkey, being the smartest of the four, knows where it is and just doesn’t want to share because he is planning his escape. A big troupe of men called the Biriciks find them and take them to their camp. There are no women at the camp and many of them are bedazzled in sequins. How come these guys never made it to any of the Shrek movies? And why can’t they get married? It turns out there is a dance contest and first prize is a flying carpet!!! I really, really like it when sitcom plots make it to the movies, because this is the kind of stuff that makes total sense to me. Of course they win the flying carpet! And of course it takes them right to the circus!!

The circus sucks. It’s one tiny tent, and inside it is a big lady giant that dresses like a man and performs Shakespeare. It’s too bad that isn’t relevant to any of the characters in this movie. Except Balkiz/Tüysüz. She tells Balsüz about Twelfth Night and the whole bit about dressing like a man to be near the one she loves, and she agrees to go back with them to the palace. I’m pretty sure they just asked for the giant’s belt, but okay. They bring the giant back to the palace and the sultan is really excited about it and he lets Keloglan kiss the princess to wake her up, but when he tries to do this, she wakes up and punches him in the throat. And later at the big party to celebrate their engagement, she tries to immolate herself. You see Balkiz? This is a smart woman.

Cankiz

Maybe you are wondering what happened to the Black Prince? Didn’t he have the perfect plan to ride in on his white horse and rescue the princess? Well, he just showed up late. Cinderella tells him about the giant, who is performing her crossdressing theater act at the big party, and he goes off to talk to the OTHER giant, the mean one I guess. The giant shows up at the party and it turns out the other lady giant is like his lost lover or something. Go Giants. Black Prince just takes the princess away on his horse. That’s that.

Apparently it was a big wrong for Keloglan and company to bring the wrong giant back to the palace. They could have just brought the belt and no one would have known. Their punishment is they are buried up to their necks in sand in thedesert. What about beheading? Once again coming to their rescue are the Biriciks, who are on their way to perform at the wedding of the Black Prince and Cankiz. Yeah, they are some kind of performance troupe. Naturally they decide to disguise themselves as part of the band to get into Black Prince’s castle and rescue the princess who is right where she wants to be.

Big brawl between Black Prince’s people and the Biriciks, Cankiz shuts down Keloglan by saying she loves the Black Prince and not him and she wishes he would have died on one of his adventures, Tüysüz reveals herself as Balkiz and confesses her love for Keloglan, and though he still doesn’t really seem to give a care they get together anyway, because what are his options, really? For some reason there is a big sword fight between Keloglan and the Black Prince, I guess they had to finally get to the ‘vs.’ part of this movie, even though, if you really think about it, they have nothing to fight over. Keloglan wins this fight, says some judgemental thing about Black Prince and Cankiz and leaves. How did he win a sword fight? The whole movie he was armed with nothing but a recorder flute that he couldn’t even play. Black Prince, for considering Keloglan a rival and for losing a crappy battle to him, can also be considered the most pathetic character in this movie, but at least he isn’t hopelessly in love with him. The real epic ending to the movie takes place after this, when the credits roll and all the characters in the movie dance to a kicky Turkish version of ‘I Will Survive,’ disco ball and all. If I had my way, every movie would end like Ru Paul’s Drag Race.

This movie was colossal Turkish mess and 98% of its gags failed. It was stupid, ridiculous, and unapologetically silly. But… I enjoyed the bouncy music and the amount of dancing for no reason, and it had a cute donkey and that’s really all it takes to please me. At least it didn’t take itself seriously at all, like not even a little, and it was kind of stupidly fun. Of course if/when it gets rebranded to the United States as a vehicle for Eddie Murphy, I will probably hate it pretty hard, but for now, I am entertained. On your next Turkish movie night… consider this movie, I guess, but just remember that I have no taste, and I am forcing this recommendation at the end because I have no idea how to wrap this. Oh, Keloglan grows a hair back at the end. Did I just spoil the whole thing?

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tagged: film bad movies turkey long read
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